KIA Sorento team owner Jose 'Pepito' Alvarez on Friday shrugged off the negative feedback from fans over the decision to tap boxer Manny Pacquiao as the PBA expansion team's player coach, saying critics will soon eat their words.
"Ayos lang yung negative comments nila... Balang araw makikita naman (ang galing sa laro ni Manny)," Alvarez, who is also governor of Palawan, said two days before Pacquiao and Co. make its debut in the pro league with a game against fellow debutant Blackwater Elite.
"Most of the guys criticizing him now will soon eat their words," added Alvarez. "Walang problema, bakit matatakot ka sa negative (comments)? Madaling i-convert 'yun para maging positive."
Alvarez, who is chief executive officer of Columbian Autocar Corp., the distributor of Kia vehicles in the country, said he also expects Pacquiao to play a lot better during the season that he did in a preseason game against Blackwater where he logged one point, one rebound and two errors in 10 minutes.
It just so happened, Alvarez said, that Pacquiao's attention is divided right now between basketball and his upcoming title fight against Chris Algieri.
"Manny is a very good player. Si Manny magaling maglaro 'yan, kaya lang ngayon divided ang attention," he said. "I've seen him play before, many times. Magaling yan, three-point (shooter) talaga."
CAC president Ginia Roxas-Domingo echoed Alvarez's words.
"Paulit-ulit na sinasabi niya (Pacquiao) na hindi siya papasok sa PBA kung wala siyang papatutunayan," Domingo told Spin.ph. "Nag-start pa lang kami, andami nang nasasabi. But we're confident that this team will show force."
But more than Pacquiao's skills, the former pound-for-pound king also serves as an inspiration to the team, Alvarez said.
"Iba naman ito sa kanya. Eight-time world champion, nagbibigay ng inspirasyon sa team. Makikita naman yun eh," Alvarez said during the Kia fellowship night tendered for the team and select media at the Paris Hilton poolside of the posh Azure Residences in Taguig.
"Makaka-impact siya sa PBA kaso di siya permanent player kasi madami pa siyang fight na lalahukan, divided ang attention niya."
Asked on why they picked Pacquiao, Alvarez said it was because of his skills and capability as a basketball player and coach as well as for marketing purposes.
"Both ways 'yan eh. Hindi kami lang may gusto sa kanya. Siya rin. Hilig rin niya basketball. Kinuha namin siya for inspiration and marketing, " said Alvarez.
But when pressed on what weighed more in their decision, the Kia coach admitted: "Marketing."
"Kailangan din niya lumabas sa TV eh. Nakatulong din ang Pacquiao, pinag-uusapan (ang Kia) eh," he added.
Domingo said Kia is happy to see Pacquiao realize his dream to play in the PBA.
"Alam mo he is our boxing hero, he is our legend. Any way na makakatulong tayo to achieve his dream and one of his loves which is basketball, bakit hindi natin siya tulungan?
"He has brought us pride for so long as a boxer, bakit itong bagay na to di pa natin i-complement sa kanya."